An Update from the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science

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Biology/DNA Standards and Best Practices Webinar Series

On July 15 the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) Academy Standards Board (ASB) and Promega held the first webinar in a series aimed at providing information on new standards and best practice recommendations for forensic biology and DNA testing laboratories.

Part one of this series, Development and Publication of New Standards and Best Practices – The Process, described the complete process for standards development within OSAC and the ASB.

OSAC’s program manager John Paul Jones II kicked off this webinar with an overview of OSAC and its history, the general process of document creation and construction within OSAC, and a description of the OSAC Registry process.

Next, Robyn Ragsdale, chair of OSAC’s Biology/DNA Scientific Area Committee (SAC) and member of the ASB DNA Consensus Body, presented information about this SAC and its subcommittees and the history and processes of the creation of DNA documents within OSAC.

Teresa Ambrosius, ASB Secretariat, followed Robyn’s presentation by giving an overview of the ASB and its history, the general process of document standards development within ASB and the DNA Consensus Body, the publication of the final documents by ANSI/ASB, along with information regarding the future process of maintaining or revising the documents.

The second webinar in the series, Mixture Interpretation, Validation, and Protocol Development and Verification, was held August 5 and focused on two published standards that pertain to the interpretation and comparison of DNA profiles, with an emphasis on DNA mixture interpretation.

Charlotte Word, a member of OSAC’s Biological Data Interpretation & Reporting Subcommittee and the ASB DNA Consensus Body presented the requirements in these two interrelated standards, ANSI/ASB Standard 020, Standard for Validation Studies of DNA Mixtures, and Development and Verification of a Laboratory’s Mixture Interpretation Protocol, First Edition, 2018 and ANSI/ASB Standard 040, Standard for Forensic DNA Interpretation and Comparison Protocols, First Edition, 2019.

Joanna Johnson then shared information regarding how the Indiana State Police Laboratory system implemented these two standards in its laboratories.

The webinar series will continue September 9 with Training Standards Overview. During this webinar Kim Murga, former chair of OSAC’s Biological Methods Subcommittee and member of the ASB DNA Consensus Body, and Beth Ordeman, chair of OSAC’s Biological Data Interpretation and Reporting Subcommittee will discuss several standards that have been written to address various areas of training in serology and DNA testing.

If you were unable to attend parts 1 and 2 of this webinar series, you can view them on-demand on the Promega website. Registration for part 3 is still open – learn more here. You can also catch Charlotte’s presentation on new standards for forensic DNA testing laboratories during her session at the upcoming ISHI Symposium on September 15.